Roundup: Outdoor Dining, Old Dominion, Billy Joel …

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Over the past 2 years, the restaurant industry has been rocked by COVID. Amid all the bad news, one bright spot was the rise — and popularity — of outdoor dining.

This Monday (March 14, 7 p.m. Zoom), the Planning & Zoning Commission meets to consider permanent outdoor eating regulations.

Under new state legislation, the P&Z can determine the size of an outdoor dining area, when it can operate, and what public safety protections are needed.

Planning and Zoning Department director Mary Young says, “The Planning & Zoning Commission looks forward to hearing from food establishment owners to help set reasonable standards, allowing the Restaurant Renaissance in Westport to continue and provide safe and secure dining options for patrons under the ‘New-Normal’ conditions.”’

Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell predicts, “some restaurants are going to love this. Some are not going to like it at all. It depends on whether you have the land, an amenable landlord, a parking lot to use or a town road to be able to do it. The Chamber sees both sides to this.”

Monday’s public hearing will be livestreamed at www.westportct.gov, and on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.  Comments can be sent to the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov. Click here for the full text amendment.

Out door dining on church Lane. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Lynsey Addario’s photo last Sunday — of a family killed by a Russian mortar attack — horrified the world.

Yesterday, the New York Times photojournalist — a Pulitzer Prize winner, and 1991 Staples High School graduate — spoke compellingly about that image, and the events surrounding.

In an in-depth interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper — at 3:30 a.m. Ukraine time — Lynsey talked spoke of her surreal feelings as she realized the Russians were targeting civilians. With mortars whizzing just 30 feet away, she witnessed the killings.

Cooper asked her thoughts as she took her photos. She felt she had to document the event for the world. With a 10-year-old of her own, she had to maintain her professionalism — even as she noticed the family’s luggage lying next to them.

She also talked about her feelings afterward, and what it’s like to witness such scenes over and over again.

It was excellent journalism from Anderson Cooper — and one more reason to pray for Lynsey’s safety, and that of everyone in Ukraine.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Lynsey’s photo was also featured on “60 Minutes” this past Sunday. Scott Pelley used it to frame that night’s Ukraine story. Click here for the link. (Hat tips: Susan Woog Wagner and Hedi Lieberman)

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A bright young man from Westport
Who really cares about transport,
Said to get to the train,
Wheels2U is a gain!
It’s like your own private escort!

Okay, it’s not Keats. It’s not even Ogden Nash. But it’s a good way to introduce the Westport Transit District’s limerick contest.

The goal is to raise awareness of Wheels2U Westport, the on-demand, group ride, door-to-train platform shuttle service.

The top 7 entries win gift certificates to Westport restaurants of their choice, ranging from $100 to $25.

Want some info before writing your poem? WTD director Peter Gold calls Wheels2U “easy, inexpensive and convenient. It comes when you call it, picks you up at your door, and takes you right to the platform at the Westport and Greens Farms stations. No more walks from the parking lots in the cold and dark. And it’s a greener way to get to the train.”

Westport residents use the Wheels2U Westport app to request a pickup between 5:45 and 10 a.m., and 4 and 9:30 p.m., almost anywhere in town. Pickups should be requested 20 minutes before you would normally leave to drive to the station.  The fare is just $2, when paid with the Wheels2U app.

The contest is open to all Westport residents. Enter as often as you like. Email entries to pgold@westportct.gov no later than March 25. Put “Limerick Contest” in the subject line, and include your name, address, and email. Click here for the full rules.

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For Old Dominion, winning awards is old hat.

The group — whose lead guitarist is 1997 Staples High School graduate (and former soccer star) Brad Tursi — was named Group of the Year at Monday’s ACM ceremony in Las Vegas.

It was the 5th consecutive year they’ve won country music’s top prize.

Their acceptance speech included a tribute to the citizens of Ukraine. (Hat tip: Tricia Freeman)

Old Dominion, at the CMA Awards. Staples grad Brad Tursi is on the far right.

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Speaking of music: Every month, Billy Joel sells out Madison Square Garden. Now his music is coming to the Levitt Pavilion!

Yeah, read that sentence again. “His music” — not the Piano Man himself.

But this is no tribute band. It’s Mike Del Guidice & Big Shot. He tours all over the world with Billy Joel. His band performs astonishing renditions of those songs, plus others by Elton John, the Beatles and other beloved artists.

The concert is Friday, May 20 (7:30 p.m.). Levitt Pavilion member pre-sales start today (Wednesday, March 9, noon). Click here to become a member. Sales to the general public start Friday (March 11, 10 a.m.).

Mike Del Guidice and friends.

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On April 7, some of Westport’s best chefs will leave their kitchens. They’ll head to Aitoro’s, the great appliance store just over the Norwalk line. There — amid high-end appliances — they’ll offer great food for a good cause.

It’s a benefit for the Make-a-Wish Connecticut chapter. The nonprofit helps fulfill the dreams of critically ill children.

Among the celebrity chefs: Bill Taibe (The Whelk, Kawa Ni, Don Memo); Matt Storch (Match Burger Lobster, Match Restaurant), Jes Bengtson (Terrain Garden Café, Amis Trattoria), Robin Selden (Marcia Selden and Naked Fig Catering), Dan Kardo (Oar & Oak), and Christian Petroni (Food Network star).

Tickets include samplings, and complimentary beer and wine. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

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Bill Webster sends today’s captivating “Westport … Naturally” photo, and adds:

“People often hear the tom turkey gobbling on spring mornings, but seldom do you get a chance to see a wild turkey strut. The turkey strut is an incredible courtship display that is intended to attract hens and display dominance.”

(Photo/Bill Webster)

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And finally … in honor of the great photo above:

5 responses to “Roundup: Outdoor Dining, Old Dominion, Billy Joel …

  1. Valerie Ann Leff

    So happy outdoor dining can continue—it really livens up our town.

  2. Big fan of outside dining, hope it continues.,

  3. Jeez, won’t the public-transit-as-a-religion people just give up!

    According to a 12-28-21 CT Post article, the subsidy per trip is $59 ($278,240 / 4,683 trips during the reported period.)

    The claimed environmental benefit is likely to be false, as diesel vans riding nearly empty almost certainly pollute more per ride than a far cleaner-running gas powered car.

    Since 70% of the subsidy comes from the state, it borders on the criminal to use this money to “enhance the brand ” of Westport, as the transit director has said.

    The subsidy should go to improve transit in places like Bridgeport where poorer folks really need it.

  4. In another score for outdoor dining in town, this morning the Board of Select(wo)men approved applications by: Basso to complete proper grading of their outdoor patio (which previously sat along the sidewalk grade that was not ADA compliant, in addition to making dining uncomfortable;) and Tarantino’s to adapt a Railroad Place parking space in front of their cafe for outdoor dining (with the option to apply for a second space, if approved.) Additionally the Downtown Association again received approval to present (light) live music on Church Lane throughout the summer, with all traffic and pedestrian safety provisions considered. Each approval was prefaced with the caveat that all necessary town regulations and permits be in place.

  5. Jennifer Johnson

    If you want to get home from the station
    What’s needed is consolidation
    Too many districts
    Are what restricts us
    From getting to our destination.

    Simply put, there are too many transit districts serving SWCT – seven between Greenwich and New Haven! That’s nuts. If Westport wants to support transit, then we should support consolidating transit districts so people can actually get where they want or need to go. We don’t live in a bubble so we shouldn’t fund a transit district that keeps us that way.

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